Do You Have A Center? And How Well Does It Hold?

My favorite passage (a favorite translated version of it) of Hesse’s “Siddhartha.”  I’m tired of having to search all over the internet for it and continually finding inferior translations of it or only partial renderings of this passage, so I’m going to dedicate a post to it, so I can always find it, and so others can enjoy this munificently sublime translation of the passage.


So without further adieu, here it is . . . (drum roll please . . . )


Once he said to her: “You are like me; you are different from other people. You are Kamala and no one else, and within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself, just as I can. Few people have that capacity and yet everyone could have it.”

“Not all people are so clever,” said Kamala.

“It has nothing to do with that, Kamala,” said Siddhartha.  Kamaswami is just as clever as I am and yet he has no sanctuary.  Others have it who are only children in understanding.  Most people, Kamala, are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground.  But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them, they have within themselves their guide and path.  Among all the wise men, of whom I knew many, there was one who was perfect in this respect.  I can never forget him.  He is Gotama, the Illustrious One, who preaches this gospel.  Thousands of young men hear his teachings every day and follow his instructions every hour, but they are all falling leaves; they have not the wisdom and guide within themselves.”

(Hermann Hesse, “Siddhartha,” pp. 58-59, New Directions Paperback, translated by Hilda Rosner)